I went to Warren Wilson College, a small liberal-arts school in the mountains of North Carolina, where I worked on the college farm and majored in studio art. My dad was a photojournalist, so I grew up around photography all of my life and was always interested in it. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I realized I had a stronger passion for it than anything else and that I wanted to try to make a career out of it. I graduated in 2003, and after a season as a wrangler on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, and a couple of internships at a newspaper and news service, I began my career freelancing in Washington, D.C., covering the White House and Capitol Hill. I eventually landed on the staff of The Washington Times, where I continued to cover politics, but also national and international stories. In 2011, I was offered a job at the Los Angeles Times and have been here ever since. In 2017 I was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in Feature Photography for a photo essay from Brazil titled, “Motherhood in the Time of Zika.”
How did UA Schools prepare you for success?
UA Schools taught me the importance of discipline and hard work, both in academics as well as in athletics. In high school, the wide range of classes offered, particularly of art classes, helped me find my strengths and passions. Mr. Scott Wittenburg, whom I took photography classes from, taught us the foundations of photography, the technical aspects as well as the aesthetics, but also encouraged us and gave us the freedom to experiment and hone our eye and personal style. I took that with me into my college photo classes, as well as into my career.
Dreyer is an author, adviser and recently retired senior executive at The Walt Disney Company. She joined The Walt Disney Company in 1980 and spent over 30 years in various roles. Among her many projects, she had a leadership role as part of the grand opening team of Disneyland Paris. She also served as the Walt Disney World ambassador, the face of the company throughout the world.
How did UA Schools prepare her for success?
Dreyer shared: “I can shut my eyes and remember Windermere Elementary and Mrs. Gardner reading ‘The Secret Garden.’ It was magical, and she brought stories to life. Mr. Stark at Hastings in Spanish opened new worlds, and Mr. Ziegler at the high school made me chew on issues and ideas. These teachers pushed me to think, ask questions, explore, and discover.
“Through many opportunities and programs, there were many areas to jump in including student government, the science fair, pep club, lacrosse stats and yearbook. It was fun to get involved and participate in all sorts of programs and projects. I didn’t always succeed, but I learned to try and try again.
“The spirit of love, compassion and support evident in UA taught me about giving back, looking beyond yourself and reaching out to lend a hand.”
Catherine McMichael, Class of 1972 and 2017 Upper Arlington Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus
Notable achievements at UAHS
Catherine was the accompanist for the 220 voice UAHS choir for all three years of her attendance at UAHS. She was also a member of the independent 16 member singing ensemble Strollers. In addition to her musical activities, she was one of the top 20 scholars in her enormous ’72 class of 792 students.
College and career experience
Catherine has her bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance and master’s in Chamber Music and Accompanying from the University of Michigan. While there, she won the annual Concerto Competition, which led to her being a soloist with the University Philharmonia Orchestra. She has taught hundreds of students in piano, improvisation and composition, and has written hundreds of pieces on commission. She is a performer, arranger, composer and/or co-director for several musical groups in Michigan including the River Raisin Ragtime Revue in Ann Arbor, the Bijou Theatre Orchestra of Bay City and the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra.
How did UA Schools prepare her for success?
“There was an expectation of excellence communicated by every teacher I had at UAHS. That expectation was complemented by an enthusiastic atmosphere of support for learning and effort. I felt prepared to catch everything the University of Michigan could throw at me, and I did, because of the expectation of excellence fostered by UAHS faculty and staff.”
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